The company they keep

Just look at the kind of people who are attacking her, and you begin to understand just how afraid they are of what she can do to protect consumers:

The attacks on Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) just keep coming, fast and furious, facts be damned.

The CFPB will be “powerful, hard-nosed and unaccountable,” warns Fred Barnes, executive editor of The Weekly Standard. The agency “will decide its own budget,” its “rulings can’t be vetoed,” and it “will be almost impossible to challenge” in court.

“Who in the world would consider it appropriate to have one person appointed to set the rules for the entire financial industry?” wonders Senator Bob Corker.

The Wall Street Journal describes Warren’s “ideological agenda that banks are the villains of the credit crisis while distributing cash to homeowners who will presumably be grateful on Election Day 2012.”

And the latest? A proposed $20 billion settlement with the Big Banks for foreclosure fraud and abuse is deemed by bank executives as “a naked shakedown” by the CFPB.

(Never mind that banks have illegally foreclosed on some homeowners, and imposed unwarranted fines on others, to name just a couple categories of violations.)

Clearly, what we have here is a scene straight out of South Park: a Godzilla-like CFPB with the face of Elizabeth Warren on a rampage. Upstanding citizens must either run for their lives or join the GOP, Wall Street, and conservative Democrats to bring this monster to its knees—just as these defenders of deregulation brought our economy to its knees.

Don’t let this concerted rightwing smear campaign—straight out of their stale playbook—distract from the facts. These daily hit-jobs on Warren and the CFPB are designed to do one thing only: lay the groundwork to limit the agency’s funding and autonomy and, consequently, its power.

Currently, the bureau is funded through the Fed—just as all bank supervisory agencies are independently funded—in order to avoid politicizing its mission by subjecting it to Congressional appropriations. Yet the GOP would like to create a different set of rules for the CFPB. That’s why Texas Republican Representative Randy Neugebauer has introduced legislation to house the CFPB in Treasury so that Congress can control the purse strings. He didn’t try to hid his objective, saying the move would allow Congress to “have some say-so on how big this organization gets and some of their activities.”

Warren addressed this issue squarely in a recent speech, “While the banking regulators charged with preserving the safety and soundness of financial institutions and ensuring consumer protection compliance by smaller banks would continue to receive independent funding, the agency in the financial regulatory system with lead responsibility for protecting consumers would face a different set of rules – rules that threaten its independence.”

It’s also a downright fabrication when people like Barnes and Corker paint a picture of a completely unaccountable CFPB.